The Strategic Helper: Narcissism and Prosocial Motives and Behaviors

Abstract

Across three studies, we examined the relationship between narcissism, prosocial behaviors, and the reasons why people engaged in them. Specifically, we examined how narcissistic people engaged in charitable donations, taking advantage of a naturally occurring mass charitable donation campaign, the ALS “ice bucket challenge” (Study 1). We also examined how narcissism was related to volunteering and other types of prosocial behaviors (Studies 2 and 3). Moreover, we compared and contrasted the prosocial responses of more empathic versus more narcissistic people (Studies 2 and 3). This paper can help scholars and practitioners to determine under which circumstances, and for which reasons, narcissistic people may exhibit prosocial behaviors.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by grants from the John Templeton Foundation (#47993 and 57942) and Wake Forest University, The Character Project.

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Correspondence to Sara Konrath.

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Funding

This project was supported by grants from the John Templeton Foundation (#47993 and 57942) and Wake Forest University, The Character Project. The first author was also funded by the National Institutes of Health while writing this paper.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in Studies 2 and 3. Study 1 was an exempt study that relied on an existing de-identified dataset.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Konrath, S., Ho, MH. & Zarins, S. The Strategic Helper: Narcissism and Prosocial Motives and Behaviors. Curr Psychol 35, 182–194 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-016-9417-3

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Keywords

  • Narcissism
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Empathy
  • Charitable donations
  • Volunteering
  • Motives for volunteering
  • Helping